Brunshaw murder retrial: Update

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A BURNLEY man has accepted attacking a man with an empty wine bottle at a Burnley flat – but has insisted to a jury he knew he did not kill him.

Kenneth Howson (26) has admitted using violence on James Atkinson (55), saying he did so to shut him up because the other man kept talking about the defendant’s dead mother.

Howson, of Williams Road, has been giving evidence in his Preston Crown Court retrial where he denies murdering Mr Atkinson in October last year.

His body was found in the bedroom of a property in Waddington Avenue, where occupant Neil Gilmore (55) was found dead in the front room.

At a previous trial, Howson was convicted of murdering Mr Gilmore, but a jury were unable to reach a verdict on him regarding Mr Atkinson. Another man, Daniel Waddington was convicted of murdering both men.

The prosecution in the retrial claim that both Mr Atkinson and Mr Gilmore had been attacked with incomprehensible brutality. Mr Atkinson had been the partner of Howson’s mother who had died several weeks earlier last year.

Howson told the jury he had been drinking at the flat one night when Mr Atkinson “just started going on” about his mum and saying things like how good he had been for her and for the family.

The defendant said he asked him a few times to shut up.

Howson told the court: “He was doing my head in.” The other man walked into the bedroom.

The defendant said: “I followed him because he was muttering about my mum. We were both stood in front of each other.

“I asked him why he was saying the things he was saying. I hit him with the bottle across the face.”

The bottle was a one and a half-litre empty wine bottle.

Howson added: “I think he stumbled back onto the bed. I hit him again, I think about four or five times, the same place, across his cheek.

“I just wanted to shut him up, stop him saying things he was saying.

“There was blood. He wasn’t conscious by the end of it.”

In response to a question from his barrister, Mr Paul Reid QC, he said when striking the blows he had not intended to kill or cause really serious harm.

Howson said he heard moans and groans from the front room and went on to see Neil Gilmore laid on the floor and Daniel Waddington hitting him with a stick and stamping on him. He said he pulled Waddington away, but that the young man went to the bedroom and started attacking James Atkinson with the stick, striking his head a few times.

“He started headbutting him and punching him,” the defendant said.

“I sort of tackled Danny off him. Enough was enough. It was bad what had happened. It was wrong.” Howson said there had not been any agreement by either of them to attack or kill.

He said he had not encouraged Daniel Waddington to attack Mr Atkinson and neither had they attacked him together.

The defendant said he had not rung for an ambulance because he was scared of what had happened.

He referred to arguing that later occured between him and Daniel Waddington at his sister’s address.

“Danny said to me that I had asked him to get Gilly as I was gonna get Jimmy. It wasn’t true.

“I called him sick and that I had not asked him to do anything like that”.

The two of them returned to the flat. “I don’t know why, just to check on them”, he said.

Howson accepted having taken photos on his mobile phone of both men, something he felt “disgusted” about.

Mr Reid asked him how he felt about his involvement regarding James Atkinson. Howson responded: “I know it was wrong to do what I did. I know I didn’t kill him. I had no involvement in Neil Gilmore.”

(Proceeding)